SHRP OPENS FOR 25TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON
Tonight marks the opening of the Thoroughbred race meet and Sam Houston Race Park’s 25th anniversary. Seventy horses are competing in 8 races, including a Texas-bred claiming race. First post is at 7:15pm.
On Saturday, 9 races are carded, including a Texas-bred claiming race and a Texas-bred maiden, with 81 horses competing.
The Houston Racing Festival is on tap for Sunday, with exciting stakes and special opportunities for race fans. Inaugurated in 2013, the $300,000 Houston Ladies Classic (G.3) was formed to serve as the marquee race for Sam Houston’s Thoroughbred meet. Now in its seventh running, the mile and one-sixteenth race anchors The Houston Racing Festival, which also includes the $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup (G. 3), the $75,000 Frontier Utilities Turf Sprint, the $50,000 Houston Turf Stakes for Accredited Texas-breds, the $50,000 Jersey Lilly Turf Stakes and the $50,000 Stonerside Sprint.
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will meet fans and sign autographs from 12-1 pm in the SHRP History Room on the first level of the grandstand.
In celebration of Sam Houston Race Park’s 25th Anniversary Season, one fan will be $25,000 richer. Free admission will be offered and all patrons in attendance will be given an entry slip.
The drawing will take place after race seven and the selected fans will be assigned a saddle cloth number for the Houston Ladies Classic. If their number matches the winning filly or mare, the fan will win $25,000.
Sam Houston Race Park will also host a silent auction with all proceeds going to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF). The PDJF currently helps to support over 60 permanently disabled former Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred riders solely through donations and proceeds. For more information regarding the PDJF, please visit www.pdjf.org.
Millionaire Midnight Bisou will begin her 4-year-old campaign as the 3-5 favorite in the Ladies Classic. Owned by Bloom Racing Stable, LLC, Madaket Stables LLC and Allen Racing, LLC, she is trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen, who has won ten leading training titles in Houston in addition to his numerous national racing accomplishments. Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will have the mount.
Texas trainer Karl Broberg will saddle 12/1 Viva Forever.
The Connally Turf Cup to be run at the distance of 1 1/2 miles attracted a field of nine, including two-time champion Bigger Picture. Owned by Three Diamonds Farm, he will attempt to be the second turf specialist in Connally history to win three times. That feat was accomplished by Glen Warren’s Candid Glen, who was victorious in 2001, 2002 and 2003.
Two horses in the Connally have Texas connections: Texan Jerry Durant owns 12/1 Budro Talking, a Louisiana-bred trained by Mike Neatherlin, and 8/1 Team Colors, a 7-year-old son of Street Cry (IRE), who was claimed last summer at Saratoga by owner Brad Grady of Grandview, TX. He will make his 28th career start for trainer Joe Sharp with jockey Adam Beschizza making his Sam Houston debut.
The 5-furlong Frontier Utilities Turf Sprint drew a full field of ten including defending champion Hogy.
Owned by Michael M. Hui and trained by Michael Maker, the 10-year-old son of Offlee Wild has won 19 of his 53 starts and will reunite with Jose Ortiz on Sunday. The Kentucky-bred was a fast-closing second in the 2017 edition of the race, winning in a driving finish in a swift clocking of :59.20 last January.
American Sailor, owned by Raj Jaganan drew the far outside post under Lane Luzzi. The 7-year-old sired by City Zip was the runner-up to Hogy last year and won the 2016 Bucharest Turf Sprint here. Trainer Wayne Potts trains the chestnut gelding who ships in from Tampa Bay Downs.
Steve Asmussen will send out 12/1 Kentucky-bred Liger.
The Stonerside Sprint has a field of eight for the 6-furlong feature, formerly named the Sam Houston Sprint Cup. It was renamed this year to honor the late Robert C. McNair and his Stonerside Stable. The well-respected Thoroughbred operation in central Kentucky produced national and international racing stars, including Congaree, Bob and John, Tout Charmont and Chilukki. McNair sold Stonerside Stable to Darley in 2008 to devote his full attention to his Houston Texans NFL team and numerous philanthropic causes.
Contenders include William S. Farish’s homebred Direct Dial (Too Much Bling – Fast Find), who was second in the $50,000 Groovy Stakes and winner of the $65,000 Jim’s Orbit division of the Texas Stallion Stakes last year at Sam Houston. He placed third in both the $125,000 Gazebo Stakes at Oaklawn in February and the $50,000 Bluebonnet Stakes at Lone Star Park in April before annexing the $65,000 Stymie division of the Texas Stallion Stakes at Lone Star in May. The 4-year-old colt is trained by Steve Asmussen and will be ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith.
The Jersey Lilly Turf Stakes is a 1 1/16 mile feature that will run as the finale on the Houston Racing Festival Card.
Mike Maker will saddle 5/2 favorite Susie Bee, who will make her third attempt to win the Jersey Lilly. Owned by Calumet Farm, she was a runner-up last year and makes her 35th career start Sunday under Jose Ortiz.
Texan Brent Davidson sends out Another Bond Girl, a 6-year-old mare he bred and owns in partnership with William H. Higgins. The Oklahoma-bred mare has won $312,327 in her 40 career efforts and has odds of 10/1.
Making her first foray to Sam Houston Race Park is 18/1 Terra’s Angel, winner of the 2017 Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf for Texas owners Johnny B. Evans and Terry Eoff, who is also the trainer.
The Houston Turf Stakes for Accredited Texas-bred 4-year-olds and up has garnered a full field of 12 going 1 1/16 miles, headed by David Cobb’s 7/2 favorite Picknngrinn (Star Guitar – Jennifer’s Affair). Bred by Jackie and Gerald Rich, the 4-year-old colt is coming off an allowance win at Fair Grounds on December 26 and is trained by Miguel Silva.
At 9/2 is Jose Luis Espinoza’s stakes winning homebred Moojab Jr. (Moojab – Ticket). Trained by Jerenesto Torrez, he is coming off a long layoff after winning the Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame Stakes at Retama in August.
Sunlit Song (My Golden Song – Fly So True) was bred by Carolyn Barnett, who now owns the stakes placed gelding with Becky Harding. Trained by Mindy Willis, he has odds of 5/1.
Looking to repeat his win from last year is stakes winner Bonjour Baby (Sing Baby Sing – Secret Sweep), bred by Tom Durant. He is trained by Larry Stroope for Alvin Wong and has odds of 8/1.
Also at 8/1 are Vincitore (English Channel – Glowing Spirit (BRZ)), bred by McBride Racing, and trained by Louie Roussel III who owns the 4-year-old gelding in partnership with John Young and Randy McBride, and Highway Song (My Golden Song – Terrific Speed), bred and trained by Danny Pish, who owns the gelding in partnership with Dennis E. Foster.
Completing the field are 10/1 Kingsville (Street Move – Day Lily), 12/1 Gottherightonebaby (Sing Baby Sing – Foxy Jill), 12/1 Mav Master (Mizzen Mast – Annie Savoy), 20/1 Gavin (Improper Again – Proud Carmela), 20/1 Right Lane Lukasz (Temple City – Wrenice) and 30/1 F J Uncle Vic (Uncle Abbie – Let Her Reign).
NOTES: Our condolences go out to former TTA Director Sue Cook and her family of Corsicana for the loss of her son Robert who passed away this week after a long illness…The Texas Racing Commission will meet on Tuesday, January 28 in Austin…Consignments for the Texas 2-Year-Old Sale are still being accepted…TTEF Scholarship applications are due by February 15th.